REM by Perla Limon

     I can barely breathe, my lungs heave from the strain of running. My legs burn, begging for a brief reprieve. I pump my arms harder as I wheeze for air, vision going blurry for just a moment. The hulking figure, dressed in a cloak of shadows, pauses as I stumble over the flat ground, a satisfied grin barely visible in his deep-set face. I struggle to catch myself and am rewarded with the feeling of the concrete pavement peeling my skin back with cold fingers, leaving trails of ichor. The darkened pavement hungrily swallows it up.

     Before I can scramble to my feet, the concrete groans with need. It grasps me tightly and pulls me under as I screech and flail in its steel grip. I can feel the heat in my toes and the sharp pain of fear piercing through me. My nails claw at the edge of the abyss, anything to stall the beast that consumes me from below. But I sink into the darkness anyway, unable to so much as cry out.

     I awaken to the sound of heavy footsteps down the hall, the clacking of glass against the metal railing along the stairs. My sheets are cold and sticky with sweat, my pillow smells of tears. I can hear slurred murmurs of anger, then the crack of glass against the hardwood floor. My lungs heave in panic and I cover my face in the moist coverIt’s just a dream—the footsteps get closer—Please wake up—My doorknob turns.

     It’s just a dream